My window to the world


Vodafone activities this week

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2006 19:22

This coming week (4 December) is going to be interesting. I have received an invitation to attend the opening of Vodafone New Zealand's new flagship retail store, in Wellington (Lambton Quay) and will take some pictures to post in the Vodafone forum later.

I am also meeting with Dion Knill (Vodafone New Zealand) and Colin Hankins (RIM) to talk about the new BlackBerry handheld device to arrive in these islands: the BlackBerry Pearl.

RIM BlackBerry Pearl
The BlackBerry Pearl comes with digital camera, multimedia capabilities and an expandable memory slot for the first time. It measures just 4.2" x 1.97" x .57" and weighs only 3.1 ounces. The BlackBerry Pearl is a quad-band GSM/GPRS and EDGE-enabled mobile device. It comes with built-in 64MB flash memory, expandable with a MicroSD card.

With the BlackBerry Pearl users will be able to use Voice Activated Dialing (VAD) through a Speaker Independent Voice Recognition, support for polyphonic, mp3 and MIDI ring tones, and call management features such as smart dialing, conference calling, speed dialing and call forwarding. It also features a speakerphone and Bluetooth 2.0 for use with hands-free headsets, car kits and other Bluetooth peripherals such as a GPS receiver.

BlackBerry Desktop Software synchronization via Bluetooth is also supported.

The BlackBerry Pearl comes with a media player and stereo headset jack so users can enjoy their favorite music and videos on the go. Music and video clips are delivered with rich sound and vivid color. MP3 and ACC music files and MPEG4 and H.263 video files are supported.


Interesting that it's only GPRS/EDGE, not WCDMA/HSDPA, but for e-mail this can prove enough (unless you are in a touristic area with poor GPRS coverage).

I don't know yet all the availability details, but will post more information Tuesday afternoon, after the meeting. 

Here's a quick run on the BlackBerry Pearl. I haven't seen one yet, so I can't confirm any of these comments.



 



Do you want to sponsor us to CES 2007?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2006 11:54

I have the confirmation of my trip to attend the Windows Vista RTM Lab and CES 2007, both events happening early January 2007 in Las Vegas.

This will be my second trip to attend the CES (Consumer Electronics Show), and my fourth (or fifth?) trip attending a Microsoft Featured Community site event.

From past experience I know that it's almost impossible for a single person to attend the events and cover the whole show, find new stuff, take pictures and write about this.

I am thinking of having a second Geekzone person with me during the event, and I am currently looking for a sponsor for his trip. What kind of sponsorship? Tickets for the second Geekzone person, accomodation, cellular data for our on-line real-time postings, anything on these lines are welcome...

Full disclosure: Microsoft Corp is currently sponsoring my own trip, but if you want to be added to the list and have your company acknowledged in our posts, please contact me for this opportunity.








Ilium Software eWallet 5.0 for Windows Mobile and Desktop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2006 07:00

It looks like the folks at Ilium Software are working hard. I have been testing the new eWallet 5.0 Beta, which should be public now, and it is really a great improvement on an already great product.

I have been using eWallet since my days of Palm. Since then I moved from the Palm to Windows Mobile and from desktop to desktop without having to change anything or re-enter any data. I now have more than 500 passwords, document numbers, credit cards, bank accounts, server configuration stored in this electronic wallet.


The new eWallet 5.0 Beta brings a couple of features I have really enjoyed testing. The visual, with all new icons is really stunning, but being abe to synchronise the electronic wallet between multiple PCs and Pocket PCs is great.

Here is what I do: I have a copy of my .wlt file on my desktop, a second version on my tablet PC and a copy on my server. Both my desktop and tablet PC are using the new feature that allows this file to be synchronised between a PC and a network server address.


In my case I use Hamachi to create my virtual network, so wherever I am with my tablet PC I am connected to my LAN. When I open this file on the tablet PC it will attempt to synchronise with my server, and it will do it again when I close the file. Back at my desktop the program is configured to synchronise to the same server, again on open and close.

There's no more copying the file between PCs now, everything goes through my server. And this is automatically synchronised to my Pocket PC.

Great software, even better.

Now I really have to go and finish writing some Pocket PC software reviews I have queued here.





Last Sony Ericsson Symbian smartphone leaves the house

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Dec-2006 19:07

For months I have been trying to convince my wife to switch from the old Sony Ericsson P800 (Symbian UIQ-based) to a new Windows Mobile device.

I suggested the Windows Mobile device mainly because she is now keen on checking her e-mails while on the go, and the good old Sony Ericsson P800 wouldn't work with any push e-mail solution, only pop3 and imap. Since we have a Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 here, Microsoft Direct Push is an ideal solution, with no need of third-party software.

But she liked (note the past tense) her P800 because it is quite a compact  smartphone, with touch screen.

Today the P800 met the floor. Hard. And she asked if I had any phone she could borrow. The only ones I have around here are Windows Mobile Pocket PC, so she's now using an old i-mate Pocket PC Phone Edition. We might have to look for a newer more up-to-date model for her soon.


The bad side for me? Just last month I bought a brand new battery for this phone... Well, as posted in the post title, this is probably the last Symbian device in this house.






Windows Live Search for mobile beta

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Dec-2006 18:25

Do you have a web connected phone or smartphone? Or are you using a Windows Mobile Pocket PC, Windows Mobile Smartphone, or even a Java-based phone? Microsoft is beta testing a mobile application based on Windows Live Search that will allow you to search for directions, get traffic information, directory data, all from your device.

 

You can access the new Windows Live Search for Mobile beta from your phone's web browser by visiting mobile.live.com/search, or from a small client application downloadable from this page. The client is available for Windows Mobile or Java phones. Users can also get this information via SMS.

If you don’t have a data plan or a web enabled device, you can simply send a text message to 95483 (WLIVE in the U.S.) with a query like “Toys Chicago, IL” or “Coffee 90210” and you’ll immediately receive a text message reply with the nearest business listings with address and phone numbers.

 

 

With the client you are able to search for a business or other information from your mobile device, check addresses and even get directions how to get there.

You also have access to traffic information, including some detailed maps with green/amber/red routes pointing out bottlenecks in the transit system.

The service is currently available for the U.S. only.



Free Microsoft Windows Vista Professional and Microsoft Office Professional 2007

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Nov-2006 21:43

Yes, that's right... But read the fine print and you will find out that like other U.S. promotions, this is only valid in the 50 United States (including District of Columbia).

Still reading? Good. Here's the deal: Power Together is a series of webcasts and on-line labs about Microsoft's new Windows Vista and Office system. Complete three webcasts on each series and you get a free licence for one of those software.


There's also a page with promotions, and the best one is a 15% discount on Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition plus an MSDN Premium or Professional subscription. I tell you this: a MSDN subscription is worth it (if you are in New Zealand and want this discount, check it here for a limited time).







New Zealand companies don't get blogging

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Nov-2006 00:40

New Zealand companies don't get blogging:

Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.

Many bloggers differentiate themselves from the mainstream media, while others are members of that media working through a different channel. Some institutions see blogging as a means of "getting around the filter" and pushing messages directly to the public.


Most importantly C-level people, middle managers, employees - everyone - should read Naked Conversations and the Cluetrain Manifesto:

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.

However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets.

Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.



If you think I am talking about your company (if the hat fits) then you are probably correct in your assumption.




Kudos to AdventNet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Nov-2006 20:05

Some time ago I posted a series of entries in my blog about valuable tools for Microsoft Windows Server admins. One of the tools I praised back then was ManageEngine Applications Manager from AdventNet.

AppManager is not limited to Windows Server machines. It also works with Windows Server, Windows clients, Linux, and Unix machines.

Note that I am not a paying customer. I am using the free version of their software, which allows me to add up to 5 monitors. I use this to keep an eye on my local Windows Server and the remote server running Geekzone.

This web based tool provides the admin of a single or multiple servers a lot of information that would otherwise require many hours of work and hundreds of scripts to collate.


After upgrading my local server I decided to update the software from version 6 to version 7. It all went nicely, but I had to delete one server. And the problems started.

As soon as I tried to add the server back to the monitor the CPU would go to 100% and require me to reboot my server.

I logged a fault with AdventNet, and in a few days I received an e-mail asking for more information, and a debug program to trace the SNMP requests.

After a couple more days I got a phone call from AdventNet and we looked through more settings.

Today I received a second phone call, from 6pm through 8:10pm - that's more than two hours on an international phone call. Using WebEx their developers looked through the application database, tested the issues, applied a fix and put the application to work again.

How is this for an excellent support service for a customer using their free version?

I can only recommend their product and services now. By the way, AdventNet is the company behind the Zoho web-based office tools (think of word processing, presentation, collaboration, spreadsheet, CRM, project management).







Prepare your Windows Servers and Windows Mobile devices (and self) for timezone changes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Nov-2006 11:54

For a few years now we have seen an interesting fault happening with Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Smartphones that rely on a Microsoft Exchange Server to synchronise their appointments.

Windows Mobile users in New Zealand, Australia and some other countries have reported appointments are moved to and from the device with an one hour difference from the actual time. This happens only during the week immediately before or after the start of Daylight Saving Time in those countries.

I have raised this issue with Microsoft before because we had reports of this in our Geekzone forums.

We read some horror stories here, such as the CEO (or Chairman?) of a large telco who missed a flight because the Pocket PC appointment was one hour off. And this is just one example.

The answer was always something along the lines of "the timezone information on a Pocket PC is stored/managed on a dll file and an update would require the deployment of a new signed dll to millions of devices, and OEMs would need to update older devices, etc, etc".

In short the answer was "sorry, this is a fault, but there's no immediate fix". The only fix for this was to (inappropriately) change the timezone on the device, which would cause more problems if you actually created a new appointment directly on the device during that week.

Interestingly enough things have changed. You see, the Energy Policy Act 2005 is going to be inforced and according to the Wikipedia entry:

The bill amends the Uniform Time Act of 1966 by changing the start and end dates of daylight saving time starting in 2007. Clocks will be set ahead one hour on the second Sunday of March instead of the current first Sunday of April. Clocks will be set back one hour on the first Sunday in November, rather than the last Sunday of October. This will affect accuracy of electronic clocks that had pre-programmed dates for adjusting to daylight saving time. The date for the end of daylight saving time has the effect of increasing evening light on Halloween (October 31).


Now it seems the DST problem will affect the U.S. consumers and organisations as well...

And guess what? Microsoft came out with a registry fix for this, applicable to old Windows Mobile devices from Windows Mobile 2003 and newer.

But isn't this against to what they kept telling us before?

So, go ahead with your conspiracy theories, but to be safe, you need to work with these Knowledge Base articles (only if applicable).

First make sure you check the Knowledge Base article 928388 2007 time zone update for Microsoft Windows operating systems:

The update that this article describes changes the time zone data to account for the United States DST change. This time zone update will also include changes for other related DST changes, time zone behavior, and settings. Some of these changes will occur in 2007, and some have occurred since these versions of Windows were originally released. The update that this article describes also includes some changes that have previously been released as individual hotfixes. An example of this is the Sri Lanka change in time zone offset. This update will also include some changes that have been individually documented in Microsoft Knowledge Base articles


Next, read the Knowledge Base article 923953 How to configure daylight saving time for the United States and Canada in 2007 and in subsequent years on Windows Mobile-based devices. Note that it mentions some .inf files converted to .cab files to be loaded on your device. Why is Microsoft not releasing the files? It only makes things harder for end users. But fear nothing, visit pdaphonehome and dowload a installer from there.

By the way, good luck trying to load something that changes your registry on a Smartphone. Pocket PC phone users are lucky though.

Also note this impacts Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2. According to Microsoft a patch will be available in January 2007 for these servers:

A test version of this update is now available to businesses that wish to test the impact of the upcoming time zone changes. A copy of the update can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. For more information please refer to Knowledge Base article 926666.


The test version of this update is only intended for use in testing environments. A final version of this update for production deployment will be released in January 2007 through Microsoft Customer Support Services (CSS), Microsoft Download Center, and Microsoft Update.



For a wealthy of information on this topic, visit Microsoft's page Preparing for daylight saving time changes in 2007.






Thrive Wellington 2006 - the report

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 24-Nov-2006 19:49

As posted before, I spent most of the day attending the Thrive Wellington 2006 sessions. Interesting programme, some notable speakers and food for thought.

First of all, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the MC Paul Holmes (pictured). Very different from the TV character, more likeable and enjoyable. Even funny. If I had something like this on Geekzone 2007 (or further), he could be the one (but I guess he charges too much for our small event).


I was late for the first few sessions, because of the late invite and my morning routine. So I missed the Welcome with Paul Winter (EMA Central), followed by John Heng (Click Clack) and Michael Hill (Michael Hill Jeweler).

Noticed something? Yes, it's all about manufacture and retail. The event was organised by the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association (Central), so you won't see anything about services listed here. And no Internet businesses either. And not a mention of web 2.0, although I met Peter Torr Smith (letuseit.co.nz) there. And he noticed the same.

Back to the event. It looked like a TV talk show, with Paul Holmes interviewing the guests (and sometimes the guest going through a presentation). The stage was really well done, and the organisation was great. They also had 20 exhibitors (including Telecom New Zealand - Orb) showing their services and products geared towards business owners.

I did catch the Ralph Waters (Fletcher Building) chat with Paul Holmes, which was really good. He compared New Zealand production with a similarly sized country in population (Ireland, approximately 4 million people) and questioned how the cement consumption here is much smaller than there. He also questioned the media role in always pointing out the bad stuff instead of showing a "can do" attitude (something I agree with).  I just think it was strange that his definition of "media" doesn't include the Internet, only newspapers and TV.

Next up was Richard Tweedie (Todd Energy), with a brief history of the Todd group, where they work, and other stuff related to energy generation, including an interesting video about gas exploration in high sea.

I missed the next sessions because of a lunch meeting on the other side of the Wellington CBD, but was back in the afternoon to roam the stalls and attend Neville Findlay (Zambesi)'s session on starting a business - and what a story from being an engineer to owning a fashion design company.
 
Tony Kerridge (Cafe L'affare) has got to get the award for being the funniest guest speaker. He told the audience about Cafe L'affare business, selling it out to the Japanese food group Cerebos Gregg's, how they had to introduce the "cafe culture" in Wellington to create the business around it. Very entertaining.

Gareth Morgan's session on retirement, planning and KiwiSaver was very entertainment, albeit painting a daunting prospect of insurance companies as "sharks" feeding on the money kiwis will save for their retirement. What a character, I say. And he had the best presentation in terms of multimedia, starting with some cool shots from his motorbike travels on screen before he entered the stage.

Gareth was followed with some music by Boh Runga, a panel discussion between Paul Holmes and some of the guest, and finally by a chat between Paul Holmes and Rugby Union star Jonah Lomu.

Jonah Lomu (pictured) was the "motivational speaker" for this event. He told us about receiving the All Blacks jersey from the hands of Colin Meads before his first test, his kidney transplant in 2004, and how he's working now in coming back to the sport.


As I said, no one talked about Internet technologies, or even IT for that matter. Naturally, as this was mainly a manufacturers' event, and most of Internet technologies are in the services area, I wouldn't expect Rod Drury to show up there. But still it seemed like IT and Internet didn't exist at all.

I was interested to find out how technology support their success, how it can be used to increase our presence in the international markets and other stuff related.

I wonder if anyone else will blog about Thrive Wellington...





freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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